Remembering Caftan Woman and Her Words

I have been thinking long and hard about how to honor Patricia Nolan Hall known to most in the classic movie blogging world as Caftan Woman and as Paddy Lee to friends and family. Paddy was a fellow blogger, an amazingly supportive and knowledgeable one in fact, and an important part of our classic film community. Paddy Lee passed away on March 7, and our community rallied to pay her tribute. In addition to the many words posted across social media expessing deep sorrow in Paddy’s passing, Jacqueline of Another Old Movie Blog and Patty of Lady Eve’s Reel Life are hosting The Caftan Woman Blogathon for which this post is intended.

When I started blogging I did it on a whim. I never thought I’d write anything interesting or certainly nothing anyone else wanted to read. It was Paddy Lee who gave me the courage to continue past that initial movie commentary I posted. She made me feel special as if we were friends in this love of movies we shared. Those feelings continued through the years until I came to expect her comments every time I published a post. In fact, I often wrote with her in mind. “What would Paddy think of this” came to mind as I pressed that button each time not realizing her comments had become important. But it was much more than that.

Classic movie fans often become enamored of movies through some familial connection. Those memories are evoked when we watch certain movies. It never failed to fill me with wonder as Paddy Lee shared the memories of how she and her children came to share whatever movie I commented on. It was through these comments, her memories, that I feel we became friends although we never met. Then when Paddy Lee passed, I came to recognize she made everyone feel special taking the time to share those precious memories with every blogger, every fan she encountered. This was a gift I feel lucky to have received and I want to share some of her words here so I can have a place to easily revisit them. I hope you enjoy her wit, sparkling humor, insight, and intelligence as much as I do. She had a way of making someone else feel special.

Caftan Woman in her own words

When I celebrated this blog’s tenth anniversary, Paddy wrote…

Congratulations and thank you! “Keeping this blog alive” is a phrase I will take to my heart as it came from you, a writer I admire. You bring stature and grace to the classic movie blogging world. You make it special, Aurora. So many movies and performers are now wrapped in your knowledge and unique way of sharing.

When I paid tribute to Eric Blore…

The Eric Blore face may well have had more muscles than the ordinary human’s and he used each masterfully.” Yet another perfect line from one of my favorite writers.

Around here, Mr. Blore was one of those actors we used to pique our kids’ interest in classic movie actors. “Do you want to see what Toady looks like?” They did.

We watched Bowery to Bagdad when it was on TCM a while back purely for the presence of Mr. Blore. He was such a treat.

When Jameson was kidnapped in Passport to Suez, my heart broke, and I could feel Lanyard’s heart breaking as well. I tend to get a little caught up in stuff like that. Can’t help it.

When I wrote about THE INVISIBLE MAN From Wells to Whale…

I really enjoyed learning so much about Wells, and The Invisible Man in particular. My mind is filled with the background information and I want nothing more than to watch the movie again soon.

Speaking of Wells and Welles, I caught a Studio One presentation from 1957 on YouTube, The Night American Trembled. It is very well done and filled (stuffed, actually) with familiar faces. Check it out sometime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jeW30vLwds

When I remembered Mabel Normand…

You had me in tears at the end of our journey with Mabel. Indeed, no one can touch her.

When I announced the 9th Annual What a Character! Blogathon after a blogging break due to COVID…

Of course, we noticed. You were missed, and now we celebrate your recovery.
A suggestion for those days when you need a break: a tee-shirt that says “malfunctioning.” Hee-hee, ha-ha, giggle, snort.

When I chose my Supreme Court of Classic Movie Characters…

Your 2016 article lives on in the memory and I recall nodding sagely and smiling at its wisdom.
A similar reaction occurred this time around with one exception. The inclusion of Clarence Oddbody inexplicably brought a rush of tears to my eyes! Nonetheless, the attributes of these familiar and beloved characters are sorely needed on a body as august as the Supreme Court.

When I celebrated 50 Years of The Mary Tyler Moore Show…

When Janet was in high school a friend loaned me the DVD set of the series and it was such a joy to share those people with my daughter. She immediately fell for the show. It is a cherished memory and we often quote lines to each other. She has in her possession (from me) her own DVD set of the series and a WJM coffee mug.

Once, pondering a question posed online I muttered “funniest sitcom character.” Entering the room at that moment, Janet didn’t hesitate to say, exasperated that I was having trouble, “Ted Baxter.” 

I’ll be sending her a link to this article. I don’t know if she will laugh or cry; probably both.

When I shared what watching Jason and the Argonauts for the first time meant to me…

It was such a treat to share that first viewing of “Jason” with you.

Personally, a part of me is still waiting for those further games, that other day that Zeus promised us.

When I posted a tribute to Marie Dressler…

A beautiful tribute to the inspiring Marie. “Lived in,” yes, that describes Marie’s looks perfectly and respectfully.

Her memory and legacy living on with the foundation in Coburg, an interactive museum and film festival, is a glorious thing in the 21st century. 

PS: I don’t know when I’ll have the courage to watch Emma again. Oh, the tears!

On my post honoring REBECCA’s Mrs. Danvers…

If there was any question, you have done more than justice to the actress and the character. Unforgettable indeed. Her characterization is known to those who haven’t seen Rebecca. Such power in performance and such power in character that we can physically feel fear when she is on screen. Thank you for this contribution.

May I add another comic movie connection to Leachman’s Blucher? In the Abbot and Costello fantasy, The Time of Their Lives, 1946, Gale Sondergaard – straight of back and clothed in black – answers the door to a haunted house. Guest Binnie Barnes takes one look and says “I loved you in Rebecca.”

On Vincente Minnelli’s FATHER OF THE BRIDE…

This is as lovely and winning an article on this movie as anyone would hope to read. Watching Father of the Bride, which I call “spending an evening with Spencer Tracy”, is such a pleasure, such a riches of emotions. I would probably have given it all the awards, but what do I know?

On 1920, A Centennial Celebration…

Go chase yourself! Ha!

I am flabbergasted by the number of people born in 1920 who both entertained and inspired me through the years. As fascinating as the history we will delve into throughout the year. 

Happy New Year, Aurora!

On my 8th Blogaversary…

It is always a treat to visit this site. You never know what fun and clever things you will come up with, but I am always delighted and enlightened.

When I wrote about Bette Davis as TCM’s Star of the Month…

This is going to be a fun month. I will be sending your article to my daughter Janet. We have been slowly adding to the list of Davis films she has seen and enjoyed. This has been slow due to busy schedules and the fact that the man we live with (hubby/dad) can’t abide our Bette and ruins every watch with snide comments. We just have to find him some friends to get him out of the house, hit the recorder, and we’re off!

On 85 Years of Astaire and Rogers…

Your description of Fred and Ginger dancing as “absolute beauty in human form” brought a couple of stinging tears to my eyes. All of that blood and sweat, and worry (from Fred) lives on, giving us the most wonderful parties (movies) to attend whenever we need.

PS: Did you notice the back of James Finlayson’s head on the golf course in Carefree? After I did, he is the first thing I think of in connection with the movie, even before Irving Berlin!

On Disney’s THE ARISTOCATS…

Charmante!

Gavin will often put The Aristocats on a loop, and listening to it is a delight. You made me realize what I am missing by not rushing into the room to see the lovely backgrounds that give the movie its unique feel.

On Maleficent, The Mistress of All Evil…

From across the living room, Janet recognized Maleficent. I said “Great Villain blogathon, Citizen Screen.” To which Janet roared laughing “Aurora.” 

Maleficent struck terror into my heart in my childhood, and certainly for more recent generations. I love your description of this most delicious legacy of onscreen evil and her influence to this very day.

PS: Gavin does an excellent Eleanor Audley impression when he is angry with us. “Stand back, you fools!”

On my Five Favorite Movies of the 1950s…

H’m. I was certain I had left a comment. Mind. Lost. Oh, well.
I imagine I would have said something about your exceptional taste in cinema. Gushed over North by Northwest, bemoaned the lack of All About Eve on my own list and asked you to win the lottery and buy your own TV channel.

On how BRINGING UP BABY Pains My Intercostal Clavicle…

You expressed my daughter and husband’s feelings about “Baby” precisely. I have a checkered emotional connection to the movie, where there were times I would see it on the schedule and a voice in my head would warn “Not today. For the love of Heaven, not today!!” (The voice in my head gets a little melodramatic at times.) However, for the past couple of years, “Baby” and I have been bosom buddies, so to speak. 

Pleasant surprise: the hubby once caught the “Jerry the Nipper” gag as coming from The Awful Truth. Hooray!

Remember years ago when we were all doing movie haiku? I tried for days to work something around the seven syllables of intercostal clavicle. Over to you!

On Gloria Grahame in THE BIG HEAT…

Thank you for this excellent look at the heartbreaking and unforgettable Debby Marsh.

The Big Heat is a film I can never turn away from. Perhaps I saw it a week ago, but if it is airing, I am watching again. Fritz Lang had a way of making you think and feel a dozen things at once with his movies. With a character like Debby and an actress like Grahame, he was able to give us worlds.

On TCM’s Silver Anniversary…

December 2006, I was channel surfing and came across Star in the Night. There had been no announcement that our cable company here in Toronto would be providing the legendary TCM. All I knew was that J. Carroll Naish and Donald Woods had miraculously appeared on my TV screen. The short ended, the logo appeared, and I spent the next few months afraid the network would be taken away as quickly as it had appeared. It is only my 12th anniversary with the network, but I can’t imagine life without it. For folks in Ontario, TCM is Saturday Night at the Movies on steroids! In other words, a dream come true.

On Robert Riskin and THE THIN MAN GOES HOME…

“…so many familiar faces that Sycamore Springs feels like our home…” Oh, that is lovely and so true. A large part of the enjoyment of the movie must be attributed to that feeling.

On My blog’s Seventh anniversary…

Seven is a magical number and you are a magical writer. We appreciate the wit, the knowledge, and the sheer joy that you share with us. We need you.

On Yosemite Sam…

Indeed. Certainly not a namby-pamby. Sam worked wherever and whenever his unique talents were needed, but from now on I cannot think of him but as “that outlaw.” (Wipes away one solitary, sentimental tear then turns and yells at the cats for ruining the moment.)

On my watching James Whale’s THE OLD DARK HOUSE on the big screen…

Small world department: The daughter and I watched The Old Dark House last night on the bigger than we used to have TV screen.


We had take-out pizza and red wine and she was prepared for “the weirdest movie you’ve ever seen”. She thought nothing could surprise her after Duck Soup? Ha! She said that the angles made her uneasy.
PS: When Massey and Karloff were tussling she cried out “Brothers shouldn’t fight.” Then she said, “But they’re both…I’ve had too much wine.”

We envy you the theatrical experience.

For comfort PLEASE DON’T EAT THE DAISIES…

This is a lovely tribute to the movie that comforts you. The next time I watch it, and all the times after that, I will think of you.

Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, I’ll See You in My Dreams, Love Me or Leave Me, On Moonlight Bay, By the Light of the Silvery Moon … and Julie. The first year I was married the hubby asked what I wanted for Christmas. I said “Doris Day”. I received those movies on VHS tape (good boy!). Please Don’t Eat the Daisies became Gavin’s favourite. It was never on the shelf or in the box or wherever I was storing the tapes. While the movie was playing he would carry the case around. I guess he didn’t want to lose Doris. Or maybe Janis. H’m.

On Jack Cassidy as The Greatest Columbo Murderer…

Watching Columbo is a physically painful experience. Watching Falk crossing metaphorical swords with Cassidy, doubly so. There is so much joy in taking in every scintillating moment that one cannot help but smile. Such a prolonged, though unconscious, smile leads to an ache in the cheeks that takes hours – nay, days – to dissipate. 

An absolutely perfect choice of TV villain. Perfect!

On Hawks’ HIS GIRL FRIDAY…

A comedy that makes you think. Is there anything more perfect?

Early in our marriage, I rented His Girl Friday. My husband is a fan but relates that the look on my face was priceless when he told me that his father was always proud that he “walked out on that movie!”. I have never gotten over that, and every time we watch it, the story comes up. Recently, it was our daughter’s turn to be shocked.

On my tribute to Mary Wickes…

How delightful to spend my Sunday morning with you and Mary Wickes. I thought I knew her, but I had so much to learn. I love that picture of Mary Poppins, and the idea of her and Welles working together at the later stage of their career. Like you, I am sentimentally attached to the Winfields and Stella.

I’m also attached to Father Dowling Mysteries and Mary’s housekeeper Marie. In the final episode of that series (when I thought it was just reaching its stride), Marie was developing a romance with a Reverend played by Ivan Dixon. Now, that’s a pairing you wouldn’t have seen at the beginning of Mary’s career.

On Ingrid Bergman…

Lovely. Thank you so much for sharing your dad’s fondness for Ingrid Bergman. I found it very touching.

A look at Billy Wilder’s THE PARTMENT, Office-Wise…

Brava! A perfect look at the often demoralizing workplace of the mid 20th century in a perfect movie.

I used to hate it when HR types would ask where you saw yourself in five years. In my head I would be responding “Look, I give you my eight hours, plus if absolutely necessary, for my stipend. I dedicate my work hours to my work fully and diligently. After that, what I want out of life is outside these walls.” From my mouth came what I assume they wanted to hear.

On Meryl Streep in the Workplace…

My goodness, this topic really grabbed you, didn’t it. 

Three extraordinary performances and the variety of workplace environments illuminates each one in their details. 

PS: I loved your story about taking the notes at Liz Claiborne. I can imagine, and relate (though in different industries). You made me guffaw. I love to guffaw.

On Robert Mitchum…

Your article on Mitchum is such a treat. I know I’ll be returning to it often.

Years ago in a post responding to questions you were given a choice between Bogart and Mitchum. I chose Mitchum because “can Bogart sing?”.

PS: Yes, you did mention “dreamy” regarding eyes. Yes, you did.

On Frank Capra’s Americanness…

Beautifully realized films from Capra, and a wonderfully put-together series of images and quotes to stir the imagination.

An observation: It seems to me that some people (MAGA) believe there was a time when “America” was set in stone as an accomplished ideal, when it truly is an ever evolving and striving force of energy. Indeed, it is a goal of liberty and humanness worth striving toward. Happy Independence Day!

On SWEET ROSIE O’GRADY…

I can’t believe that there’s a Grable picture that I don’t recall. How could I have missed it? I’m a gal who often bemoans the fact that life isn’t like a movie musical, in particular a 20th Century Fox Technicolor musical (although I’ll take the black and white any old time as well).

I feel your outrage at the gift shop and at the clerk. Wherever I have worked in my life I felt it was important to learn about the company, what they did, and their history.

On PENNY SERENADE…

Penny Serenade is a beautiful movie that makes me cry long, loud, gasping tears of heartbreak and joy. I find it particularly wonderful that this movie touched you at such a young age. It speaks to the glory of the film and to the old soul with which you were blessed. 

Cary Grant’s scene with the judge was one of my dad’s favourites. He couldn’t hold back the tears, but he always used this as an example of he felt Cary Grant never truly got his due as a fine actor.

On The Flintstones…

Fascinating article and beautifully put together with the pictures and clips. Best way to start my day ever!

When Gavin was little (and even today) he would get very confused by Daylight Saving Time. One Sunday morning when things had changed he used his limited language skills to wail “Flintstones at 8. Jetsons at 8:30!”. When something is important, words will be found.

On THE NIGHT STALKER and THE NIGHT STRANGLER…

Last Hallowe’en I snuggled up in front of the laptop enjoying those movies on YouTube for the first time in eons. What fun!

My dad was crazy about the show, and would watch it with my kid sister Maureen. I think it gave her nightmares, but father-daughter bonding time would not be denied.

On The Dick Van Dyke Show…

A show the hubby and I had in common before we got together. A shared sense of humour is what makes us tick. We named our first cats Buddy and Sally. Our Gavin, when he was having manic episodes as a youngster, would sit calmly and watch “The Dick Van Dyke Show” on old VHS tapes. He even once picked up a box of blank tapes at Blockbuster and when I asked him why he wanted them, he started to ba-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-ba-da-da-ba-da-da the theme song. 

A couple of summers ago we finally bought the complete series on DVD. Leaving a party where we hadn’t had a particularly fun time, our daughter suggested picking up a pizza and watching “Coast to Coast Big Mouth” when we got home. She even admitted to a crush on Carl Reiner (smart girl). Your choice of immersing yourself in “The Dick Van Dyke Show” couldn’t be better.

By the way, I don’t think I mentioned it – great article!

Perfidia Spotlight…

I didn’t know the “Frenisi” guy was the “Perfidia” guy. I’m going to try to work that into a conversation soon, just to show off.

Ha-ha. Our Caftan Woman was a gem among us, and I am lucky indeed that we crossed paths. While Paddy Lee was as funny and heartfelt with all bloggers, I hold her words dear for they truly made a difference. I shall revisit these words often and can say with complete sincerity that I already miss her kindness and will every single time I publish a post on this blog. I will always wonder what Paddy thinks of this or that and will wish – time and again – that I were as generous as she.

My sincerest condolences to Janet, Gavin, Paddy Lee’s beloved sisters, and her entire family.

Please visit Lady Eve’s Reel Life and Another Old Movie Blog on Friday, May 6th for a showing of affection and admiration for Caftan Woman – Patricia Nolan-Hall from across the blogosphere. She is truly missed by many people. Also, do yourself a favor and visit Paddy Lee’s Blog here. It is a delight at every turn no matter what genre you may favor.

30 thoughts

  1. Hey! How was your trip and the TMC “Event?” When you have time, let me know. I am in MD with Lorenzo until 5/14. I hope that Laz is “independent” now. Moss has not spoken to me since 4/8–when I told him that I was off on another “road trip” for myself of 4/10; oh, well. Lorenzo finished his last final for this semester is and doing GREAT!  

  2. What a beautiful tribute. And what a way with words Paddy Lee had. And good to know you will always have these terrific comments to look back on and remember her.

  3. OMG – What better way to honor her than with her own words. Beautiful. She gives us a lot to live up to, but you, dear blogging friend, are more than up to the task. Beautifully done.

  4. With Wide Screen World, it had reached the point where I felt I was writing exclusively for her. She didn’t respond to everything I wrote, and that would disappoint me, but when she did, it made my day. I’ll bet you felt the same.

  5. Paddy was so wonderful, both as a blogger and as a human being. I will always treasure her comments on my blog.

  6. A beautiful remembrance that, by using her own words, brings her back to those who knew her and illustrates to those who did not what a gifted, generous, loving soul Paddy was. She definitely had a special way with words, and so do you, Aurora.

  7. I loved your tribute, Aurora — I could practically hear Paddy through her words. One of the best things about Paddy’s comments was that you got to know her family through them, and you also felt how very much they meant to her. I also love the idea of you having her in mind while you have composed your posts. She meant so much to us all.

  8. Beautiful tribute, Aurora. Nothing better than reading her own words for us to measure her a friend – and what a friend! She truly made us all feel special when she commented on our posts, right?
    Greetings,
    Le

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